Big 5 Wildlife Course

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The Big Five Wildlife project is a once in a lifetime opportunity for wildlife conservationists or nature enthusiasts. The program will demand much more from participants, mentally and physically; however the demands are well within the capabilities of most volunteers, and whilst being challenging, is both enjoyable and exciting. It is a chance to learn invaluable new skill, experience Africa’s unique environment and be a part of the difference that returns the environment to its natural, original state. Volunteers take part in running research on various species of wildlife in the reserve. We have numerous research projects running  and all data is collected and compiled into a daily and monthly report. We ensure that volunteers get proper training in all of the fields of work they will be involved in. Hard work is also part of the normal day with projects like alien clearing and erosion control. The main focus of this volunteer project is to return the property to its natural state and ensure a self-sustaining, functional ecosystem.


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Project Highlights

  • Learn invaluable life-skills
  • Engage in personal interaction with some of the most charismatic mammals in Africa
  • Up-close experience with the Big 5
  • Get to know the wildlife in a safe, controlled & responsible manner
  • Learn how to run a game farm
  • Run research projects
  • Hear the sounds of lions at night
  • Make a long-lasting difference

What’s Included

• Airport pick up and drop off, transfer to the project from orientation venue
• 2 Day Cape Town orientation
• Accommodation

• Weekly transport to town for shopping
• 24 hour support and supervisor
• Donation to the project

Project details

  • Arrival date: Friday
  • Airport: Cape Town International
  • Orientation in Cape Town: Friday-Saturday
  • Project starts: Sunday
  • Departure day: Sunday
  • Departure time: There are 2 bus options (Option 1: Depart Mossel Bay @3h20, arrive in Cape Town @ 09h45. Option 2: Depart Mossel Bay at 12h50, arrive in Cape Town @19h00 – preferred)
  • Location:  Mossel Bay
  • Minimum duration: 2 weeks
  • Programs run 6 days a week
  • Minimum age: 18

*Note: We can collect you at any hotel or place of accommodation on your arrival day, should it be within close radius of city centre or airport.


The house was built in 1890 and is one of the first in the area. It is a big house with a big front porch and wooden floors and ceilings. Thick walls keep the house nice and cool in the hot summer months. There is a cosy kitchen where breakfast is served in a help yourself style. Lunch is usually served outside in the communal braai area or packed to have in the reserve. Dinner is either in the warm kitchen or outside at the fire. (there is one fire for cooking and another big one just to keep warm and for ambiance. There are 3 large rooms in the house that have 4 beds each. These rooms share full 2 bathrooms and an extra outside shower (all hot water). There is also a cottage about 15m away from the main house that volunteers could also be placed at.This cottage has a small kitchen , one bedroom with 4 beds and a full bathroom with a shower. It also has its own little veranda under and old fig tree. From the garden you can see sable antelope, giraffe, wildebeest and other antelope species and the sound of Zebra is carried by the Madre our “house mother” who does the cooking and helps organize weekend activities lives Vicky is the facilitator who does the programme also lives at the house. Hein stays there for the duration of the course (usually not there over weekends).The reserve the house is on is boarded by other game reserves, Hartenbos Private Game reserve, Nyaru game reserve, Bergsig game reserve and Gondwana Game reserve.


There is wifi on this project, however very limited — so no downloads or Skype calls permitted. You will have the opportunity to purchase a South African SIM card and load data on it while you are at your orientation in Cape Town, which will allow you to have access to Internet. To make a call in South Africa, make sure your cellphone plan allows you to do so, and dial 00 before the country code of the number you are calling.


There is a weekly laundry service available by a trusty cleaning lady.


Breakfast: Self-serve cereals, fruits, yoghurt, toast, spreads, rusks, tea and coffee.

Lunch: (Either at the house or packed and eaten at the reserve) We provide salads (pasta salad, tuna salad, chicken salad) wraps, sandwiches, burgers, wors rolls, water and cool drinks (soda).

Dinner: Served at the house. Either a cooked meal, braai (BBQ) or potjie (stew). Cooked meals vary from pasta dishes to bobotie, meat and vegetables. Vegetarian options are always available.

  • Tea and coffee are always available at the house
  • There are refrigerators available for personal food
  • We are able to cater for a variety of dietary requirements. Lactose intolerant, vegetarians, gluten free etc. — providing we know in advance.

Cape Town Orientation 
All of our conservation projects will include a 2 day orientation prior to attending the project site. Friday-Saturday is orientation in Cape Town, then on Sunday you will transfer to project via shuttle and depart from the project on a Sunday.

We recommend that volunteers fly to and from Cape Town International Airport. However, if you wish to skip the buses to and from project, you may book flights to and from George Airport, where a project representative will meet you.

Volunteer Requirements

  • Completed application form
  • Basic level of competency in English
  • Good physical and mental health
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Love for nature, animals and the outdoors!

Volunteer tasks

Volunteer tasks are focused on monitoring, which forms the basis for the majority of our research assistance on the reserve. We conduct monitoring drives in the mornings and afternoons. The monitoring coincides with times of increased activity of the specific animals we are observing. We also spend time on foot tracking the more elusive animals, which is an amazing way to experience the bush. During the drier winter months, we have several hides based at waterholes which allow you to observe the various animals and their interactions at close quarters. The volunteers will also spend time attending to habitat management requirements on the properties and the greater reserve.

Packing List

Please note that May through to September are our winter months and it can get quite chilly with an average temperature ranging from -1 at night to 15 degrees Celsius during the day. So, please make sure to pack enough warm clothes if you plan your trip in that period.

  • Old neutral (khaki, brown green) clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty
  • Shoes – comfortable worn in boots for field work, sandals or flip flops, sneakers, gumboots
  • Sunscreen, hat & sunglasses
  • Insect repellent
  • Toiletries (tooth brush, tooth paste, shower gel, shampoo, towel, conditioner/shower gel
  • First-Aid kit
  • Light-weight travel sleeping bag and small rucksack
  • Working gloves x2, flashlight, power adapter, water bottle, books & games
  • Camera, hand cam-corder, binoculars, multi-tool knife, alarm clock
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